This past year has been wracked with uncertainty and disappointment. Ever since we left campus last March — many of us never to return — there has been little good news. We have lost loved ones, been isolated from our friends, had to cancel vacations and study abroad opportunities and been besieged by high stress levels through it all.
Yet, one of the greatest disappointments in the past year has been caused by something else entirely — the severe lack of respect and empathy that many people have continued to show throughout this crisis.
Of course, the majority of the blame for people refusing to socially distance and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines falls on the government, which presented a divided front from the beginning of the pandemic.
The administration gave mixed signals to the American public and distributed barely sufficient benefits in a haphazard manner, leaving millions of Americans without help. Naturally, many Americans had to continue going to precarious jobs where they had a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and where safety measures were not taken seriously.
The rest of the blame, however, falls squarely on the people who have the means to stay home and slow community spread but have chosen not to out of sheer selfishness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently discourages all travel, but there are some situations in which we find it understandable to take a flight. Maybe you didn’t want to take a work trip, but were instructed to by your boss and couldn’t refuse. Perhaps you really wanted to see an elderly family member and thought it might be your last chance. Either of those situations could plausibly be deemed “essential.”
However, going to Disney World does not count as essential. Neither does going to Dubai to “motivate” the people who follow you on Instagram. It doesn’t matter that you wrote “COVID-safe of course ;)” in the caption on your group photo at the wedding of your third cousin (twice removed!).
We see right through you. We know you didn’t “just take your mask off for the photo.” There were 200 people at that wedding — and there is no way all 200 people maintained social distancing protocols the entire time.
Through the end of February, there have been 510,777 deaths in the United States from COVID-19, with 11,212 in North Carolina alone. That means there are 510,777 people who won’t be able to go on their own vacations, who won't be able to see or hug their families again.
Is going on a vacation or breaking regulations just because you are "just sick of it!” really worth this cost?
No matter how much you try to justify it, flouting public health guidelines for your personal betterment is inexcusably selfish. It's that simple.
Stop going to bars. Stop dining in at restaurants (and if you really can’t help yourself, at least have the courtesy to generously tip your servers). Stop going to parties and weddings. And stop hosting parties and weddings!
If we can survive without these experiences for a year, so can you. Stay home.
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